Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Model For Design

I am always looking for models or systems to help me find success.
Here is a model for design in general that I've found helpful.

1) PRE-PRODUCTION.
Obtain Goal
Analyze and Research
Identify and Resolve Problems

2) PRODUCTION.
Develop
Test

3) POST-PRODUCTION.
Implement
Evaluate

This system is applicable to just about any design related issue.

Because I find systems that comport with natural human tendencies more effective, I also considered what seems to be the "natural" human epistimology when putting this together. Note that the third feature of each section implies a return to an earlier part in the process. This means that it is in fact "looping" or reiterative rather than strictly linear. Furthermore, the final feature implies that there is no necessary ending.

I keep this small list around in many places and always put it yp nearby when I begin aomething new. Maybe it can help you, too.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thoughts On Ryu, SFV

ISo I've had quite some time to get a feel for SFV now and most of that time has predictably been spent on Ryu.

Ryu retains most of his expected attributes, at least superficially, but you will find that he performs very differently.  All of his normals are woefully short ranged and the exceptions all come with drawbacks. For instance, his st.HK only hits standing opponents and cr.HK is easily punishable on block. St.MK is relatively lengthy, but has an exploitable start up. You will find that in every match up you will be out ranged in the normals department. If you do not accept that he cannot perform at mid range like he could in previous games, you will constantly find yourself whiffing attacks.

The fireball is a good tool, although it requires very thoughtful use. Curiously, it's hitbox begins around the core of the fireball and extends slightly downward, reducing your ability to cause jumping opponents to land on the projectile. It is easily jumped over and the "sweet spot" for fireball/dragon punch is much harder to find and hold onto for zoning in this game. Speaking of dragon punches, the dp is very risky now and gives opponents an opporunity for massively damaging counter hit combos on recovery.

On the good side, the fireball is still a full range projectile, dp is still an invincible reversal, and Ryu has received some great offensive tools in his st.mp, cr.mp, st.lk, st.hp and b+hk. His dashes are also very quick.

The result is a general strategy of using mobility and mid to long range zoning in order to pry open the opportunity to enter close or point blank range, where Ryu's strengths lie. No longer can he be relied on for an ironclad defense. Zoning is not his strongest asset in V, it is merely a necessary tool to begin a close range rush.

There is a second strategy which is less effective and difficult to make win, but may be necessary in some fights. This is to stay highly mobile and carefully build up damage through chipping with fireballs and white damage. It requires lots of focus and sound judgement and takes a long time to produce results, but is viable.

I personally find this change to Ryu a little jarring as I've always valued his ability to "fight from defense." Offense is strategically necessary, but defense necessarily precedes it, as per Sun Tzu:

 "To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself."

Monday, August 15, 2016

Burnt Sausage


The behavior is reprehensible, of course. Sadly, you will find that it is very typical for artists to feel like they've been treated as disposable, especially in the animation industry. But, in the long run, they will probably be better off without their name on the film.

The movie looks like it is probably terrible and I suspect a viewer would walk away having gained nothing substantial. I am likely among the most guilty of people I know for finding puerile things funny, but I've heard people talking about this movie like an approaching legend or wistfully hoping it will break the "curse" of western animation being relegated to works for children.

If this is the west's ideal for mature animation, then may the Disney bane remain upon us forever.

I can just see the ironic sneering of a writer with indignant condecension at the thought of a Frozen sequel while they write their fiftieth weiner pun.

Final Fantasy XV Is Late



Today I watched FFXV's Hajime Tabata make a heartfelt appeal to Final Fantasy fans everywhere, asking for patience and approval on his (and I presume his superiors') decision to delay the game from September until the end of November.

Sounds good to me. "...A bad game is bad forever," after all and to be honest I had assumed FFXV would never appear in anything like it's current form (although I don't doubt it is completely different from its earlier versions.)

I have not felt passionate about Final Fantasy for many years, despite my enduring love for the original US releases of FFI, II, III, and VII, which were all formative for me. I enjoyed X and I greatly adore XII. The cast lacked the charisma of yore, but there were exceptions.

XIII will never be respected for the chances it took and the successes it achieved because it's flaws were simply overwhelming.

Despite everything, I still hope this one will make me feel that sense of wonder again. It's cast of drably clad boy band members is already inferior at least in terms of visual design, but maybe this one will really be the one we've all been waiting for.
Who knows? I'm game.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Confidence and Audacity

A friend of mine recently passed along some e-mail correspondence to me, which resulted in a short discussion about how to deal confidently with employers when looking for work.

Here's some advice:

1) Avoid statements about internal speculation, they usually come off as unsure or timid. For example "I think..." or I feel..." should be avoided. "I think I'm great for this position." is not as good as "I am great for this position."

2) Focus on the value you bring and not on what you need from the employer. Focusing on your needs when applying for work can come off as desperate, weak, needy, or even insincere. Use statements about how good you are at what you do or how great it would be for the company to have you.

3) Think of everything you say as dropping a foreign idea into your interlocutor's mind. Every idea you put out there enters their head in it's raw form. They must then exert some sort of mental effort to reconcile this new data with reality. Is it true? Is it false? If they do not do this, it simply remains in it's uncontested state.

This topic could probably be unpacked in greater detail, but I'll save that for some other time.

For now, just imagine two scenarios. Picture yourself speaking to someone you want to hire you. Imagine this fictional person will not put any effort into wrestling with the ideas you put into his head. Which of these plays is the winning move?

A) "I'm the perfect fit for your position."

B) "I hope we can work together soon."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tunnel Vision in Game Art

We (that is, artists in general) typically come into games with a soloist mind set. This is cultivated from our time as amatuers, where most of us seem to have been producing art by our lonesome, where we have immediate control and visibility over all elements of our work at once.
This entirely reasonable trend among amatuers a might change as game development is increasingly more accessible, thanks to readily available software like construct, unity, and unreal. Only time will tell.
But, once we enter into game development we typically join a team of artists, wherein we specialize in producing art for a specific family of assets; characters, environments, etc. At this point we tend to fight the same old battles we've always fought at this point, throwing our entire bag of tricks at any particular task set in front of us. When an entire team does this without considering their art's place among everyone else's assets, the final look of the game comes together looking like a mess. It is akin to every musician in an orchestra trying to play the entire score.
Of course, this can happen even if it's the project of a single artist, since you will be working on a variety of disparate assets which will only later be seen together. However, the team based nature of most game development only further lends itself to this problem of tunnel vision.
Its crucial to remember that each asset must work in concert with all the others, just as certain hues and values are regulated to certain areas of a single illustration to produce harmony.
For art leadership, it is especially important to be aware of this type of tunnel vision both in your own work and in the work of your teammates. Although it is valuable for everyone on the team to recognize this concept, it is ultimately the leadership's responsibility to coordinate everything.
The principle can be sumed up thusly:
The entire screen of a video game is the illustration, not any particular asset.